Minister, youth and US ambassador explore topical issues
THEY NOT only came to bare their souls, they were looking to find solutions.
United States Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater and United States Agency for International Development Mission Director Denise Herbol hosted a youth forum on Friday at the embassy as part of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) activities.
GYSD is an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilises the millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service and service-learning. Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna as well as members of the National Youth Council (NYC), The National Centre for Youth Development and educators were also invited.
The youth, hailing from various communities in the Corporate Area and Spanish Town, were asked to focus on three issues; youth unemployment, crime and violence, and education. The participants were divided into three groups, each group tackling a topic. The forum was moderated by youth leaders Ryan Small, president of the National Youth Council, and Paul McFarlane, youth ambassador-at-large.
Regarding employment, the group identified the need for more teaching geared towards young people becoming entrepreneurs and identified that young people were not being equipped with 'soft skills', like how to handle customers, which are essential in the working world. The team dealing with education opined that mentorship programmes and peer-counselling bodies would be integral to helping combat negative peer pressure that hinders students from learning. They also felt that more practical subjects were needed in schools, as CEOs are looking for people with a myriad of skills.
To combat crime, that group suggested youth-to-youth conversations to steer youth in a positive direction. They also felt youth camps, teaching young people to have respect for themselves, would also be beneficial.
Various suggestions came from the other attendees. Visually impaired teacher Shana Parks passionately called for the NYC to hold parenting workshops and help rebuild the teacher/parent relationship. Miss Deaf Jamaica Cassandra Whyte, speaking through an interpreter, also asked for more infrastructure to assist the education of disabled youth. Both asked for a change in mindset to the disabled, who are often overlooked for jobs even though they are qualified.